Arizona State vs. Texas Tech
Dec. 30, 2013
College football can be a roller coaster ride, and in this case we're strictly talking about the perceptions of the coaches in the Holiday Bowl.
Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury entered the season as the young coach returning to his alma mater a year after serving as the offensive coordinator for a Heisman Trophy winner. When Tech started winning, Kingsbury's stature took off. He was suddenly west Texas' version of the most interesting man in the world.
Arizona State's Todd Graham has been the target for cheap jokes. After getting his first head coaching job at Rice, he left after a year for four years at Tulsa. Then Graham left for Pittsburgh. After a year at Pitt, he went to Arizona State. Where was his adventure going to take him next in the near future?
Just after the attention towards Kingsbury heightened, 7-0 Texas Tech traveled to Norman to play Oklahoma. The Red Raiders lost, but were extremely competitive throughout. Neither the rain that pelted the game or the loss looked like it'd diminish Kingsbury's star status.
That changes with five straight losses. Tech's schedule was backloaded and it showed. E! News has forgotten where Lubbock is, even if Kingsbury's coaching acumen, style sense and looks haven't gone away.
In his first season at Arizona State, Graham went 8-5. This year, a two-game improvement meant wins over Wisconsin (in odd fashion), Washington and UCLA. And with the departure of his athletic director to the University of Texas, that meant the possibility of Graham, a Texas native, moving on ... to Texas was brought up. No one's making jokes about being a possibility at one of the nation's premier jobs.
What should you expect between these two men's teams? Well, it could be one of the biggest mismatches of the bowl season. Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings have Arizona State as the No. 6 team in the country. Texas Tech is No. 60. Both teams' offenses can be exceptional at times, but it's the Sun Devil defense that'll be the turning point.
A masked rider on a horse isn't nothing to mess with, but neither is a spawn of Satan that can either burn or blind you with a star, depending on his motives. Advantage: Arizona State.
Graham: Arizona State 52, Texas Tech 28. Was there a bigger fraud in college football than Texas Tech? It's lost five straight - all to good teams - and now faces an Arizona State team that could win 11 games for the first time since 1996. Arizona State is going to be mad about losing the Pac-12 championship and will take it out on the Red Raiders.
Nick: Arizona State 45, Texas Tech 31. This could be one of those games where the final score is deceiving. With the way that Texas Tech's defense has played, there seems like there's little chance Arizona State is going to be stopped often enough for the Red Raiders to have a legitimate shot.
Sam: Arizona State 48, Texas Tech 28. ASU had to have been disappointed in its performance in the Pac-12 title game loss to Stanford. They are a better team than what they showed that day and will be able to end the season on a high note against a Texas Tech team that will be without Baker Mayfield to transfer and have lost five straight games by an average of 20 points.
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